There's another war, with Islamic
radical involvement, brewing in the Caucasus. Ingushetia, which is between
Chechnya and North Ossetia, has, for
years, been catching the overflow of violence from
Chechnya. That mess arose when the Chechens tried, throughout the 1990s, to
maintain their independence from Russia. But the Chechens could not govern
themselves, and the place became a hideout for numerous criminal gangs. These
guys started a kidnapping, robbery and extortion crime wave all over southern
Russia invaded, to reassert its authority. Several years of bloody fighting
followed, until a majority of the population agreed to shut down the gangs. For
the last few years, Chechnya has been at peace, at least by local standards.
But many of the criminals and Islamic militants fled to neighboring
"republics" (as the semi-autonomous ethnic enclaves in Russia are
called). Mainly Ingushetia to the east, and Dagestan to the west. Dagestan was
able to handle the influx of Chechen gunmen. But in Ingushetia, the violence
keeps getting worse. This year, the deaths are running at about 30 per 100,000
population. That's three times what it is in Afghanistan, and more than twice
what it is in Iraq. Some of the violence is just criminal activity, because
tiny (population half a million) Ingushetia has an unemployment rate of over 50
percent. But there are also Islamic radicals who used to operate in Chechnya.
And then there are a lot of gun in the hands of the population, so it's often
difficult to tell who shot who and why.
government blames a lot of the unrest on the local government which, while
pro-Russian (and run by a former KGB official) is generally inept and corrupt.
As these things go, the national government won't intervene unless the gangs
based in Ingushetia began raiding into southern Russia.